Toronto FC's senior academy team have a title to defend and the long road to do so begins on May 3rd when they take on the Vaughan Azzuri as part of the opening weekend of the 2015 League1 Ontario schedule.
While TFCA will not be fielding quite as strong a side as they did last summer thanks to much of the top academy talent moving up to the USL side, but the senior academy team will still be expected to be among the title contenders this summer. They managed to go unbeaten in league play last summer which sets a high bar for the team this year.
The full League1 schedule has been released with the season running from May 2nd until October 4th when it wraps up with TFCA hosting the Woodbridge Strikers. Along the way each of the teams in the league will play 22 matches (11 home, 11 away) as well as taking part in the Cup competition.
The format for the league is similar to what we saw in the inaugural season last summer with the only real difference being the introduction of three new teams: with Pro Stars FC, Oakville Blue Devils, and Sanjaxx Lions the total number of teams in the league has now risen to 12.
For Toronto FC Academy, defending their title will not be an easy task. With much of their top talent moving up the ranks they will once again be one of the youngest teams in the league. Combine that with the fact that many of the other teams are only going to be stronger than they were last summer and it should be a tough challenge.
A challenge is just what the club wants for their promising young players as it should help them be better prepared to continuing moving up to the higher levels in the club. Walking over opponents on a regular basis is not good for the development of players so hopefully this summer will see the senior academy team facing the kinds of challenges that help develop the skills and experience they need.
The team will have big shoes to fill on their roster this summer though with the league's top scorer in Molham Babouli moving up the ranks to the USL team along with Chris Manella, Luca Uccello, Marcos Nunes, and others who played a key role last summer.
The void left behind by all those talented players will open up the stage for some new, young talent to step up and start to make a name for themselves. With the lower ranks of the academy being hard to follow the L1O team is the first place for fans of the club to get a chance to see the top young talent. It could prove to be the stage where players like Gabriel Boakye, Nicholas Osorio, Alex Pena, and Malik Johnson begin to become household names among TFC fans.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about the second season for League1 Ontario the most important of which is that it is the top domestic league in Ontario and that is something worth getting out and supporting in what ever way you can.
The full schedule for the 2015 season can be found here.